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Aston Martin Vantage GT12 2015

Aston Martin Vantage GT12
Aston Martin Vantage GT12

The Aston Martin Vantage GT12 is the result of “a growing frustration at seeing other brands’ GT3 cars so well represented at track days”. At least that is how Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s design director, explains part of the thinking behind it.

This, then, is the most hardcore, track-focused variant of the Aston Martin Vantage, which, Aston Martin in V12 S form, is already hardly a shabby track car in itself. It’s so unshabby, in fact, that we placed it in the top three in our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car contest in 2013.

The GT12 – which was to be called GT3 until Porsche became unnecessarily uppity about the name – takes the V12 S as a base and makes it even more extreme. Think of it as Aston Martin’s answer to a Ferrari 458 Speciale, only it’s yet more exclusive and yet more expensive. Aston will build 100 (all of which are already sold) at £250,000 apiece.

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Acting as this generation Vantage's swansong was another limited run Vantage GT - this time to reflect on Aston Martin's success at Le Mans. There was Aston Martin a more readily available 150 GT8s built and likewise were sold out at a blink of an eye, which again showed Gaydon's ability to cram as much race tech and paraphenalia to a road car while keeping it road legal.

The changes to the GT12 run pretty deep to justify that cost, though, and they’re inspired by Aston’s own GT3 race cars. Hence the wings, the splitters and the (optional) paint finish. This is the lowest, widest Vantage ever, then, some 50mm wider than standard and fitted with lightweight carbonfibre bumpers, front wings, bonnet and, optionally, roof. Get really serious about saving weight and you can specify plastic rear and rear quarter windows, too.

Do so and you’re looking at a car that is an impressive 100kg lighter than standard, at 1565kg at the kerb. The body alone is 20kg lighter, which isn’t bad going given that it now includes a wing the size of a picnic table on the bootlid.

It, along with a new splitter and rear diffuser, makes sufficient downforce that the top speed drops from the 205mph of the V12 Vantage S to 185mph. No complaints from us; there’s barely a circuit in the world where you’d hit more than that in a road car anyway.

Inside, the weight saving is, typically, even easier to find than it is on the outside. Substitute leather and foam, and whatever they cover, with a single layer of carbonfibre and you have the makings of a cabin that feels the part – especially when it’s finished this impeccably.

What isn’t carbonfibre is Alcantara, and even though it might seem a bit incongruous to retain the stereo and satellite navigation, we must remember that this is a track car, not a racing car.

To go with the weight decrease comes a significant power increase. The Aston Martin standard V12 Vantage S makes 565bhp, which is plenty for its chassis. The GT12’s 5.9-litre V12 receives magnesium inlet manifolds with revised geometry and a titanium exhaust system (saving 19kg alone) and it now produces a walloping 592bhp.

The 0-60mph time falls by 0.2sec to 3.5sec, which may not sound like a great deal, but remember this is a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive car and traction, whether you have 550bhp or 600bhp, is the limiting factor.

So too, likely as not, is the single-clutch, seven-speed robotised manual gearbox, which, although having a new torque tube and being recalibrated for faster shifts, could prove to be less sophisticated than the best dual-clutch automatics.